Meet the first astronauts to fly the new SpaceX and Boeing spaceships

The former Yellow Jacket has been working with both companies since 2015, developing and testing spacecraft that will eventually launch Americans into space from USA soil for the first time since the shuttle program ended in 2011. Additional crew members will be assigned by NASA's global partners in the space station at a later date, the agency said.

After a almost decadelong hiatus, NASA plans to once again start launching piloted spacecraft from American soil, this time aboard two commercially developed vehicles, beginning in early to mid-2019.

Leading up to the a ceremony at the Johnson Space Center here, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said it was a historic moment for the space agency, saying: "We are going to launch American astronauts from American soil". Former chief astronaut Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley - who served as co-pilot on the final shuttle mission - will fly on SpaceX's Dragon during its first manned flight.

Astronauts, from left to right, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins, Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley, Nicole Mann, Christopher Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada and Sunita Williams.

She was the first person to run a marathon in space, cranking out the miles on a treadmill in the space station while the Boston Marathon was being run on Earth in April 2007.

Since the shuttle was retired seven years ago, USA astronauts have had to fly on Russian rockets from a remote launch site in Kazakhstan.

Boe was selected as an astronaut in 2000. She has spent a grand total of 322 days in space including a stint commanding the space station and performing seven spacewalks. At nearly 240 feet long, more than 350 feet wide, nearly 70 feet tall and weighing in at around 925,335 pounds; a fair portion of the giant structure will likely survive re-entry and reach the Earth's surface like a fiery meteorite (between 53,500 and 173,250 pounds worth by NASA's estimate). While both companies had recently said they would fly their first test flights with astronauts on board by the end of this year, those flights are now scheduled for 2019.

SpaceXNASA astronaut Sunita "Suni" Williams tests mock-ups of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship and spacesuit.

SpaceX did not give a reason for the delay of its first crewed test flight. The agency has contracted six missions, with as many as four astronauts per mission, for each company. The first tests flights are expected to take place within the next few months, into early next year.

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner will be launched from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The contracts for travel to the International Space Station were awarded in 2014.

President Donald Trump hailed the announcement on Twitter: "We have the greatest facilities in the world and we are now letting the private sector pay to use them".

NASA has just updated its schedule for commercial crew.

The two astronauts that the SpaceX company will send later will be Mike Hopkins, who spent 166 days in the space lab, and Victor Glover, who will be making his debut. The launch window for the mission opens at 3:48 a.m EDT on August 11, 2018.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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